Health & Fitness

Company recalls all of its soy butters and granola amid E. coli concerns

All brands of I.M. Healthy brand granola have been recalled.
All brands of I.M. Healthy brand granola have been recalled.

After being sued Monday by parents who believe their child developed an E. coli infection from I.M. Healthy Original Creamy SoyNut Butter, the SoyNut Butter Co. expanded its recall on Tuesday to include all I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butters and I.M. Healthy Granola products.

And, in announcing the recall expansion, indicated the problem might’ve come from another company contracted to make the products.

The recall includes all varieties, sizes and best-by dates or varieties of the peanut butter and granola substitutes used by those with peanut allergies. SoyNut Butter distributes the I.M. Healthy brand nationwide to retail outlets, childcare centers, schools and sells its products by mail order and through its website.

In fact, as of Wednesday morning, customers could still place orders for the products on the company website despite the recall notices telling consumers to return the product to stores for a full refund. SoyNut Butter’s customer line is 1-800-288-1012. It’s open from Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time.

The company put this statement on its website Tuesday:

“For over 20 years, the SoyNut Butter Co. has tried to make nut free products that help those with allergies eat like everyone else. Likewise, we chose our contract manufacturer because of their integrity and knowledge of food safety and quality. Unfortunately, we feel that is better to be cautious regarding public safety and urge our customers to heed the expanded recall. We have enjoyed serving you and will do everything we can possibly do to assist the FDA in this outbreak.”

Foodborne illness lawyer Bill Marler, whose firm Marler Clark represents the plaintiffs in the aforementioned lawsuit, pointed out Monday night on his blog, “My guess is that most, if not all, customers purchasing these SoyNut Butter products thought it was not being “contract manufacture[d].” So, who is the “real” manufacturer?”

SoyNut Butter initiated a recall Friday and expanded it Sunday over E. coli concerns after conversations with the Food & Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A CDC investigation into 12 E. coli cases across five states stated that, “Epidemiologic evidence available at this time indicates that I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter is a likely source of this outbreak.”

Since that investigation last week, four more people in four more states have been infected, two of which required hospitalization. That makes 16 people in nine states, eight needing a hospital stay.

All nine of the infected people interviewed by the CDC either had eaten I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter at home or had been exposed to it at a childcare center or school that served it or the granola coated with the SoyNut Butter. Of the first 12 infected people, 11 were children. Six were hospitalized and four developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which causes kidney failure and can cause permanent kidney damage.

That’s what Mosby and Erin Simmons of Santa Clara, California, said they’re dealing with in their lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Their 8-year-old son’s E. coli infection led to his hospitalization for 21 days, the suit says, while dialysis and blood transfusions helped treat his HUS.

The suit accuses SoyNut Butter Co. of product liability, negligence and breach of implied warranty. When The Herald attempted to reach SoyNut Buffer Co. Monday via its media line and its website, the company refused comment.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal